Paper Museum History


The paper mill in Maina Inferiore


The central part of the Paper Mill Valley, known as “Maina” is divided into three main areas: “Inferiore” (meaning “lower”part) “di Mezzo” (meaning the part “in the middle”) and “Superiore”(“upper” part). The paper museum is located in the heart of the ancient paper mill in Maina Inferiore, which oldest core dates back to the 15th and 16th century. Engravings and pictures illustrate how the building structure must have looked like between the 18th and the 19th centuries. In the upper floors, walls had special wide rectangular openings provided with wooden grills to let the sheet of paper drying out. Important structural changes were then necessary and the modernisation became unavoidable so a continuous papermaking machine was here installed (the first one appeared already in the year 1875 in Maina Superiore). By the end of the 19th century among the machines in the Paper Mill Valley there were 5 Hollander beaters, a continuous papermaking machine, 2 steam boilers and a dynamo one. The landscape of the valley changed deeply and still today near the cypresses in Maina Inferiore appears a 33 meters high (108 feet) smokestack, the only one undamaged. The fact that the closure of the activity in Maina Inferiore came later in time, gave the possibility to the retired paper workers to keep track of their memories, and nowadays this place offers its visitors  a unique tour of the centuries-old history art of papermaking and the steps involved while making every sheet of paper by hand.


Project History


Between the years 2000 and 2007 the architectural renovation of Maina Inferiore aimed at creating a high quality handmade papermaking place, especially focused on watermarked handmade paper. The renovation hasn’t been carried out only by aiming at the conservation of an historical important paper mill, which played a big role in the valley development. The architectural complex was functionally rebuilt to becoming the core of different activities tied together by the same common thread: the fascinating world of papermaking. From 2007 onwards Maina Inferiore is home to the Paper Museum, an exhibition space where visitors learn about the centuries-old history art of papermaking in the area of Toscolano Maderno.